3 out of 5 stars
Cat lovers are a special lot. Individuals who love animals that rarely give them the same level of affection in return. Despite the independence of their favourite pets, feline fans are passionate about these little balls of fur and purr after stories that celebrate those devoted cat owners. One of these true-to-life adventures found its beginnings on the streets of London with a stray named Bob.
James Bowen (Luke Treadaway) has managed to immensely capitalise on his chance encounter with his faithful feline. Building a whole persona and career on their relationship that turned the recovering drug addict and street busker’s life around. Their serendipitous story has become a worldwide sensation that has led to multiple book deals, children’s storybooks and two feature films. This recent instalment manages to walk the fence between the first film and his subsequent fame. James is grappling with his newly acquired status in society and wrestles with what to write in his next book. It is while he is trying to overcome his writer’s block that he reaches out to a young street musician who is doing it tough during Christmas.
Regardless of his discomfort with his current celebrity status, he still is willing to reach back into the darker days of his past and tell this young man a story. While he and Bob were living in the housing projects, he was still struggling to make ends meet. Even though he had become well-known across the city, this notoriety did not lead to immediate financial reward. He and his furry friend were doing it particularly hard around the holiday season during one of England’s coldest winters on record.
While they did their best on the streets to raise loose change to pay for food and electricity, the Animal Control team decided to target the famous pair. This caused additional stress for James who did all he could to feed his pet and himself. This chapter provides another glimpse into their unlikely friendship. It proves to be an uncomplicated and heartrending journey that could turn anyone into a cat lover.
Director Charles Martin Smith (Dolphin Tale, A Dog’s Way Home) manages to squeeze every possible inspiring moment and tear out of Bob’s final performance. Even though it does have familiar elements from the original drama, it does provide a worthy footnote to the world famous tabby’s life. The film is dedicated to Bob, who unfortunately passed away soon after the completion of the production at the ripe old age of 14.
It is difficult to know what parts of the film are real and which are artistic additions, but none of this really matters in the end. As the title states, this is a gift to all of the fans of this famous feline and his owner, where the streets of London seem cleaner and James no longer struggles with his addictions. Thankfully this outing manages to focus on the value of the community that surrounds the two street performers. This ultimately provides us with a lesson in the investment in people, especially those who come into our relational orbit. It shows us that our actions do matter to others. Even though the impact of these acts may not be seen by our own eyes, they do have a ripple effect that can sweep through our surroundings.
To pet owners around the world, this is a Christmas gift to you during this time of trials and isolation. This story is reminiscent of cat ownership itself. A statement that means there are no real surprises to be had. Yet, there is something about the whole experience that provides an unexpected comfort to the soul after you see it.
Rest in Peace, Bob.
REEL DIALOGUE: Are we alone in this life?
Bob and James’ story proves that it can be easy to feel isolated in a crowd, much less while experiencing hardship on the cold streets of London. Isolation can be a physical reality, but for many it is truly a state of mind. We can seek out solace in personal relationships, pets or through technology, but these things do eventually have limited satisfaction.
Even though this tale is about a man and his cat, this chapter opens the door to humanity’s need for community and even God. What do we do when we feel alone and things do not seem to be going our way? This deeply philosophical query can be answered by saying that God is there for us at all.times. The answer for mankind is to merely turn around and acknowledge His presence. During times of joy or loneliness, God is there for us and provides a relationship unlike any other.
Where do you start? Begin with the first book of the New Testament - Matthew 28:20 - ‘behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age’ and then go back to the beginning of the story and introduce yourself the person of Jesus. Matthew
We all may not have a cat riding on our shoulders, but we may come to realise that each of us are never really alone. Once you reconnect with God, you will never need to feel that way again.